08/08/2018, 15.01
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Pope: God's salvation enters through the door of weakness

At the general audience, Pope Francis continues hiscatechesis on idolatry: "Human nature, to escape from precariousness, seeks a 'do-it-yourself' religion". The golden calf "is a symbol of wealth ... success, power and money ... the temptations of all time". "Our salvation comes from the One who became poor, who accepted failure". "In Christ our fragility is no longer a curse, but a place of encounter with the Father". The memory of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein, patron saint of Europe.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "God's salvation enters through the door of weakness"; "It is because of his own insufficiency that man opens himself to the fatherhood of God". Thus Pope Francis summarized the teaching he gave today at the general audience, continuing his new series of catecheses on the commandments, deepening the meaning of idolatry, which he also addressed last week. 

The idol, he said today, "is a pretext to place oneself at the center of reality, in the adoration of the work of one's hands". "The symbol of all desires that give the illusion of freedom and instead enslave". 

At the end of the audience, the pontiff recalled the feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the cross, Edith Stein, patroness of Europe, which according to the liturgical calendar is tomorrow (even if Francis said "today").

For the catechesis, the Pope took as his starting point the story of the golden calf, as told in the book of Exodus (32.1-8). "This episode - he explained - the desert, where the people wait for Moses, who went up the mountain to receive God’s instructions.  What is the desert? It’s a place where precariousness and insecurity reign — there is nothing in the desert –, where water, food and shelter are lacking. The desert is an image of human life, whose condition is uncertain and doesn’t have inviolable guarantees. Such insecurity generates primary anxieties in man, which Jesus mentions in the Gospel: “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?” (Matthew 6:31). 

"To flee from precariousness, — the precariousness of the desert — human nature seeks a “do-it-yourself” religion: if God doesn’t make Himself seen, we make a god to our measure. “Before an idol one doesn’t risk the possibility of a call that makes one come out of one’s securities, because idols ‘have mouths, but do not speak’ (Psalm 115:5). Then we understand that an idol is a pretext to put oneself at the center of reality, in adoration of the work of one’s hands” (Encyclical Lumen Fidei, 13)".

"The calf had a double meaning in the ancient Near East: on one hand it represented fecundity and abundance and, on the other, energy and strength. But first of all it was of gold, therefore it was a symbol of wealth, success, power and money. They are the constant temptations! See what the golden calf is: the symbol of all the desires that give the illusion of freedom and instead enslave, because an idol always enslaves. There is the fascination and one goes for it. The fascination of the serpent, which looks at the little bird and the little bird stays, without being able to move, and the serpent takes it".

"However, all stems from the inability to trust above all in God, to put our securities in Him, to let Him give true profundity to our heart’s desires. This enables one to endure even weakness, uncertainty and precariousness. Reference to God makes one strong in weakness, in uncertainty and also in precariousness. Without God’s primacy, one falls easily into idolatry and is happy with meager reassurances. But this is a temptation that we always read about in the Bible. And think this well: it didn’t cost God so much work to liberate the people from Egypt. He did so with signs of power <and> of love. However, God’s great work was to take Egypt out of the people’s heart, namely, to take idolatry out from the people’s heart. And God continues to work again to take it out of our hearts. This is God’s great work: to take out “that Egypt” that we carry inside, which is the fascination of idolatry".

"When one welcomes the God of Jesus Christ, who though He was rich became poor for us (Cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9), one then discovers that to recognize one’s weakness is not the disgrace of human life, but is the condition to open oneself to   Him who is truly strong.  Then, God’s salvation enters through the door of <one’s> weakness (Cf. 2 Corinthians 12:10); it’s by dint of his insufficiency that man opens to God’s paternity.  Man’s freedom stems from allowing the true God to be his only Lord. And this enables us to accept our fragility and reject the idols of our heart. We Christians turn our gaze to Christ crucified (Cf. John 19:37), who was weak, scorned and stripped of all possessions. However, in Him is revealed the face of the true God, the glory of love and not that of the glittering deceit. Isaiah says: ”With His stripes we are healed” (53:5)".

Our recovery comes from the One who became poor, who accepted the failure, who took our precariousness to the end to fill it with love and strength. He comes to reveal to us the fatherhood of God; in Christ our fragility is no longer a curse, but a place of encounter with the Father and the source of a new force from on high ".

"Our healing comes from Him who made Himself poor, who accepted failure, who took to the end our precariousness to fill it with love and with strength. He came to reveal to us God’s paternity; in Christ our fragility is not longer a malediction, but a place of encounter with the Father and source of new strength from on high".

After the greetings in the various languages, the Pope recalled that tomorrow "in Europe, the feast of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) is celebrated. Martyr, martyr, woman of consistency, woman who sought God with honesty, with love and woman martyr of her Jewish and Christian people. May she, Patroness of Europe, pray and protect Europe from becoming a frozen land. May God bless you all! ".

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